It takes a special “rom com” to be my jam, and I mainly like that kind of film if it has elements that are atypical of the genre of romantic comedies. “Silver Linings Playbook” was, without a doubt, one of these films. Yes, there was love, but there was also mental illness, hospital breakouts, urban dancing and the song “My Cherie Amour” as a trigger to violence.
I knew that I wanted to see this movie, though admittedly that was only because I love Jennifer Lawrence and the Hunger Games franchise. I wasn’t sure what place a romantic comedy had at the Golden Globes or the Oscars, and I thought that it was just the token girly movie that wouldn’t win any awards.
I was wrong. The plot is tragic: a substitute teacher named Pat (Bradley Cooper) walks in on his wife cheating on him with the history teacher to their wedding song, causing a violent rage that forces him into a mental institution instead of jail. He gets released and spends the rest of the film trying to get his wife back, because he knows that deep down, she still loves him (despite the restraining orders that both she and her school have gotten against him). He then meets his best friend’s sister-in-law, Tiffany (Lawrence) who is just as mentally unstable as he is, and they learn about themselves together.
I’ve never been a huge Cooper fan, but this movie changed my mind. He was electric onscreen and had chemistry with everyone else in the film. Robert De Niro plays his father, from whom Cooper’s character gets his OCD and violent outbreaks. Little things, like Philadelphia sports (especially the Eagles) and wedding videos, are triggers to these broken people, and it makes the audience’s collective heart break.
Lawrence is flawless, and anyone who says that she didn’t deserve the Golden Globe is wrong. She plays broken and hurt just as well as humorous or action hero, and she isn’t afraid to look silly. She plays a “slutty” twenty-something widow who cries wolf about harassment more than once. When Tiffany and Pat meet, they have a conversation about all of the medications they have both been on that seems more genuine and friendly than most moments in film in recent years.
The film is ultimately about self-acceptance—even accepting the unwanted parts of yourself—and that is such a refreshing message after years of seeing hate and lies in movies. Tiffany says, “There’s always going to be a part of me that’s sloppy and dirty, and I like that. With all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same about yourself?” It’s such a good message for the main audience of this film.
We all know that Oscar season is upon us, and this film is nominated for all of the major awards: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director, along with two others. If you’re like me and didn’t believe that this film actually deserved all of the accolades, do yourself a favor and go to the theater right now. Learn to love yourself and hate “My Cherie Amour”.